Concern rises for White House residence staff as their workplace emerges as a virus hot spot

His uncle, John Johnson, was also a butler, and the flouting of safety protocols that has made the White House a coronavirus hot spot has also put the career civil servants who work where President Trump and first lady Melania Trump live at risk of exposure. It has Allen puzzled and incensed.

“I would be begging my dad and uncle, ‘You need to get the hell up out of there,’ ” he says. “It’s like, ‘Get out! Get out!’ ”

The White House residence staff members are largely Black and Latino, and often elderly, according to Kate Anderson Brower, who compiled a trove of interviews with former staffers for her book, “The Residence.” Numbering 90-some full-time ushers, butlers, housekeepers, valets, florists, engineers and cooks charged with maintaining the historical house and creating a comfortable home free from prying eyes, they work more closely with the first family than perhaps anyone else in that building. These employees often keep their positions for decades and work for administration after administration, viewing their job as holding up the integrity of the White House regardless of who is in office.

“They’re supporting an institution, not a singular presidency,” says Anita McBride, who was Laura Bush’s chief of staff and is a White House historian for American University.

Discretion, too, is a key component of a residence staffer’s job. Speaking out about anything, including working conditions, can be a cause for dismissal. The New York Times reported Monday that two members of the housekeeping department who tested positive were told to use “discretion” when discussing their diagnosis.

As the residence staff has been caring for the first family, a chorus of concern has started to rise among former White House and residence staff members about whether the first family and this administration are taking care of those civil servants in return. For months, this administration has treated the White House as a bubble immune to the coronavirus, ignoring guidance from their own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by refusing to wear masks, failing to maintain social distance and relying on rapid coronavirus tests that have been shown to miss infections. With the president, the first lady, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, top aide Hope Hicks, former counselor Kellyanne Conway and an ever-growing number of administration officials testing positive for the coronavirus, that bubble has burst. Now others are trying to give voice to those working behind the scenes in that building who cannot speak on their own behalf.

“I know that people in there are scared,” says Sam Kass, head chef for the Obamas for six years. “I know that they are concerned about their own lives and their families, and feel very torn about balancing their responsibilities to their country, as they see it, and putting themselves in harm’s way.”

On Sunday, the chorus rose on behalf of the Secret Service, a growing number of whom have been voicing, in unprecedented fashion, outrage over the president’s seeming indifference to the health risks faced by

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Three Days After Trump’s COVID Diagnosis, White House Tells Staff With Symptoms to Stay Home

The White House has told staff that if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home. The advice comes a full three days after President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus.

An all-staff email sent on Sunday urges anyone with COVID symptoms to “please stay home” and “do not come to work.” The email also tells any staff with symptoms to “immediately contact your primary care provider” and “inform [your] supervisors.”

The email was obtained by New York Magazine‘s Washington Correspondent Olivia Nuzzi. She took to Twitter to point out that the advice came only after the president was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center with the disease.

“Three days after the public learned about President Trump’s COVID-19 infection and the viruses spread through the White House and federal government, WH staff finally received an email telling them what to do if they have symptoms,” Nuzzi wrote.

The email says, in part: “If you or your colleagues believe that you should be practicing telework, or have questions about your ability to do so, please contact your supervisor.”

Nuzzi also noted confusion and even anger at the White House about the way the administration handled the president’s diagnosis. There has been significant criticism about mixed messaging surrounding his illness.

“[A] senior White House official was angry that staff had been kept in the dark, that nobody had been told what to do about the virus spreading rapidly in their own workplace,” Nuzzi said.

There was criticism of how the Trump administration was dealing with COVID-19 even before the president’s diagnosis. His decision to mock former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask at the first presidential debate contrasted with reports that mask-wearing isn’t required at the White House and there are no plans to make it mandatory.

“Our standard protocol is CDC best practices and recommendations,” a White House official told Axioson October 2. “Facial coverings are recommended but not required. There’s hand sanitizing stations located throughout the complex, frequent washing of hands and good hygiene is strongly recommended and social distancing is encouraged. So, I don’t foresee those things changing.”

In a video posted on Sunday, Trump said he’d learned more about COVID since his admission to Walter Reed. He also briefly left the hospital for a short drive where he waved at supporters.

“It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn’t the ‘let’s read the books’ school,” Trump said in a video

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Kitchen staff member tests positive for coronavirus at St George’s Primary School on Sheppey

A primary school’s kitchen has had to shut after a member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.

The head teacher of St George’s Primary School in Minster, Sheppey , has sent a letter to parents and carers informing them of the diagnosis and asking them to provide their children with packed lunches from today.

St George's Primary School in Minster, Sheppey
St George’s Primary School in Minster, Sheppey

Howard Fisher wrote: “Due to a positive diagnosis for Covid with one of our kitchen staff we have followed advice from the DFE and will be closing our kitchen and sending the staff home for the isolation period.

“This means that from October 5 you will need to provide a packed lunch for your child.

“If your child is in receipt of free school meals, as from tomorrow we will provide a standard lunch which may be hot or cold.

“We will have one stand in member of staff capable of catering who can manage this.

“If you could provide a lunch yourself this would help with the overall challenge.”

Head teacher Howard Fisher outside St George's Primary School in Minster, Sheppey
Head teacher Howard Fisher outside St George’s Primary School in Minster, Sheppey

On Friday, pupils at the Island’s Oasis Academy were told to isolate after a confirmed case of coronavirus .

The day before, 133 pupils and eight members of staff from Rose Street Primary School in Sheerness were made to self isolate after two members of staff also tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, an entire bus-load of pupils who travelled to The Sittingbourne School from Sheppey have been told to self isolate after a pupil tested positive for Covid-19.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

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Factbox: White House staff, top Republicans who have tested positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A growing number of White House staff and senior Republicans have tested positive for COVID-19 since President Donald Trump revealed he had contracted the respiratory disease.

FILE PHOTO: White House counselor to the president Hope Hicks uses her smartphone at a campaign event for U.S. President Donald Trump at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio, U.S., September 21, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

The infections have roiled the presidential campaign, now in its final month, rattled financial markets and slowed the work of Congress, with the Senate vowing to delay any votes now that three members of the Republican majority have tested positive.

Several people who met with the president last week said they had since tested negative, but it can take days for someone who has been exposed to the virus to develop symptoms or to test positive. Below is a list of people close to Trump who have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days:


Hope Hicks, a close adviser to the president who often traveled with him on the Air Force One and Marine One presidential aircraft, tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus on Thursday. The disclosure of her infection, first reported by Bloomberg, set off a wave of news.


Donald Trump, who had carried out a busy week of campaigning starting with the Sept. 26 introduction of his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at a packed White House ceremony, said on Friday that he had his wife, Melania, had tested positive.


Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who has had frequent contact with Trump, said on Friday she tested positive for the virus and was quarantined at home in Michigan.


Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, a spokesman said on Saturday.


Senator Thom Tillis tested positive for the coronavirus, he said in a statement on Friday. A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tillis positive test results comes after he attended a Sept. 26 Oval Office meeting with Barrett, who Republicans are seeking to steer onto the Supreme Court.


Mike Lee, another senator on the Judiciary Committee, also said he tested positive on Friday. He was present at the Oval Office meeting on Sept. 26.


Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, also tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and will work from home, according to a senior campaign official.


Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Saturday that he was checking himself into a hospital as a precautionary measure after testing positive for coronavirus.


Kellyanne Conway, a former counselor to Trump, said in a post on Twitter that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. She attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony for Barrett.


University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, who also attended the White House ceremony,

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Melania Trump didn’t visit husband to avoid exposing Secret Service and medical staff to COVID-19

Doctors and infectious disease experts were highly critical of President Trump’s decision to get driven in a hermetically sealed SUV around Walter Reed Medical Center to wave to supporters while he is contagious with COVID-19, endangering his Secret Service detail, photographed wearing the wrong type of personal protective equipment. The Secret Service has noticed.

Somebody at the White House had considered the safety of Secret Service agents. On Saturday, a White House official told NBC News’ Peter Alexander that first lady Melania Trump would not leave her isolation in the White House residence to visit her husband because “she has COVID” and “that would expose the agents who would drive her there and the medical staff who would walk her up to him.”

The White House defended what spokesman Judd Deere called Trump’s “short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside.” Deere told Axios‘ Alayna Treene, the White House pool reporter on duty, that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the president and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” Deere did not, Treene note, “answer additional questions, such as whether the drive-by happened at the president’s request.”

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At the White House, an Eerie Quiet and Frustration With the Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON — In a memo to his senior staff on Friday morning, Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, encouraged everyone to stay away from their offices in the Old Executive Office Building while contact tracing was going on. On Saturday, he held an all-staff conference call to discuss what the coming weeks would look like while President Trump remained under treatment for the coronavirus, and later reiterated the message that staff members were to work from home.

At the Trump campaign headquarters in Virginia, Bill Stepien, the campaign manager who tested positive for the virus himself, instructed staff members to “wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, check in via the LiveSafe app on a daily basis and work from home if you’re not feeling well.”

Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, delivered no guidance to the president’s aides about how they were expected to behave in a moment of crisis. But the West Wing has also been a ghost town since Mr. Trump’s departure for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday afternoon.

With the president hospitalized and Melania Trump, the first lady, who also tested positive, recovering in the residence, only a few officials came in over the weekend for television appearances or to give Mr. Trump a national security briefing by phone.

The West Wing always clears out when the president is not in the building, usually because a large portion of the senior staff travel with him wherever he goes or on weekends. But over the past few days, it has been even quieter.

A number of staff members are either sick themselves or quarantining after being in contact with Mr. Trump or colleagues who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some advisers, like Mr. Meadows and Dan Scavino, the deputy White House chief of staff for communications, have been at the hospital in order to remain in the president’s immediate orbit.

Missing as well in recent days has been a deployment of West Wing staff members, including Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and some communications staff members like Julia Hahn and Ben Williamson, who have been working out of Mr. Pence’s office on Capitol Hill in preparation for the expected Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Mr. Pence himself was working from his residence over the weekend.

The lack of marching orders from Mr. Meadows was not exactly a surprise to many administration officials. They have long expressed frustration at how he operates, neglecting to relay messages to the president from agency leaders who ask to speak with him and giving off the impression that he is focused solely on trying to score a legislative victory for himself to please the boss.

Some Trump allies on Capitol Hill said it was “disturbing” to see how Mr. Meadows was handling the current crisis. And administration officials were left puzzling over his strategy or motives for delivering information about Mr. Trump’s health.

On Saturday, Mr. Meadows

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White House not releasing number of staff infected by coronavirus, McEnany says

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Sunday that the White House would not be releasing the names or the exact number of staffers who have become infected with the novel coronavirus – backtracking on a previous comment by another spokeswoman.

McEnany said due to privacy concerns the White House would not release the number of employees who have COVID-19 despite previous assurances by Alyssa Farah – the White House Director of Strategic Communications – that the numbers possibly would come out.

“There are privacy concerns,” McEnany said. “We take seriously safeguarding the information of personnel here in the White House.”


McEnany would also not comment on whether President Trump – who announced in the early morning hours Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted the virus – had received a coronavirus test before last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio or before a fundraiser at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey last Thursday.

“I’m not going to give you a detailed readout with time stamps every time he is tested,” she said. “He is tested regularly and the first positive test he received was after his return from Bedminster.”

On Thursday morning, Trump’s senior counselor Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus.

The results came not long before the president was set to lift off in Marine One for the fundraiser at his golf club.


Hicks’ diagnosis affirmed that Trump had been in close proximity to someone infected with the virus. That’s when you should quarantine, according to public-health guidelines. But Trump went ahead with the trip. Not only that, but others who had also been around Hicks were not immediately told about her positive test.

The White House worked furiously to swap out staff who had been in close contact with Hicks and replace them with others. Spokesman Judd Deere was swapped in at the last minute, without being told why. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not make the trip. White House officials said they began learning of Hicks’ positive test after Trump boarded Marine One to start his journey to New Jersey.

Fox News’ Erin McEwan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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President Trump furious at chief of staff for contradicting White House physician, sources say

President Donald Trump is furious with chief of staff Mark Meadows after the top West Wing official contradicted the White House physician’s assessment Saturday of the President’s health, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Sunday.

Mark Meadows wearing a suit and tie: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media about US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020. - Meadows addressed the positive Covid-19 tests of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. "They remain in good spirits. The president does have mild symptoms and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the american people," Meadows said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

© SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media about US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, October 2, 2020. – Meadows addressed the positive Covid-19 tests of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. “They remain in good spirits. The president does have mild symptoms and as we look to try to make sure that not only his health and safety and welfare is good, we continue to look at that for all of the american people,” Meadows said. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Meadows is now widely known inside the White House to be the unnamed source who spoke to reporters following the medical briefing Saturday and offered a more dire assessment than Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley had given shortly before. That reporting was initially given to a pool of reporters attributed to an official familiar with the President’s condition. Later, the Associated Press and the New York Times identified that official as Meadows.


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“The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” Meadows said to reporters.

Trump is outraged at Meadows over the botched message, according to a senior Trump adviser.

Officials in the Trump White House have carefully calibrated their statements about the President’s health over the past few days. Meadows’ statement on Saturday capped a 24-hour period of mixed messages from the administration that raised major questions about the President’s health.

CNN previously reported that the President was unhappy with Meadows.

Video: NYT: WH pressured CDC to downplay risks of reopening schools (CNN)

NYT: WH pressured CDC to downplay risks of reopening schools



A separate White House official confirmed Trump is unhappy with Meadows, as the chief of staff is now viewed by Trump advisers as having damaged the credibility of the current medical briefings on the President’s bout with the coronavirus.

Conley had talked with the President before briefing members of press on Saturday, one White House official said. The official added Conley is unlikely to say more than the President wants said.

During a press conference on Trump’s health on Sunday, Conley appeared to blame the media when asked about Meadows’ comments contradicting him, saying the top aide’s remarks had been “misconstrued.”

“The chief and I work side by side, and I think his statement was misconstrued. What he meant was that 24 hours ago when he and I were checking on the President, that there was that momentary episode of a high fever and that temporary

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Doctors, White House staff offer conflicting messages on president’s health

The White House on Saturday sent conflicting signals about the president’s battle with the coronavirus, raising questions over the seriousness of his illness. 

Doctors Saturday afternoon offered a rosey assessment of Trump’s health less than 24 hours after he was checked into Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. 

But statements the Associated Press and other outlets later attributed to White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 The Memo: Trump grapples with credibility gap in crisis Overnight Healthcare: President Trump has coronavirus MORE and other sources gave a more alarming account of the president’s health. 

Adding to the confusion, the doctors themselves sent mixed messages over basic facts about the president’s treatment. 

Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus late Thursday night after top White House aide Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 Trump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection Kellyanne Conway tests positive for COVID-19 MORE tested positive for the disease. The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection Kellyanne Conway tests positive for COVID-19 Trump to Woodward in April: I’m ‘just not’ worried about contracting COVID-19 MORE announced early Friday morning that they tested positive for COVID-19. 

Friday afternoon, the president was taken via Marine One to Walter Reed “out of an abundance of caution” according to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The president was seen on camera walking out of the White House in a suit, blue tie and mask, where he waved to the press and boarded Maine One. 

At the time, White House physician Sean Conley released an update stating that the president was experiencing fatigue. 

But on Saturday, the White House staff and physicians began issuing mixed messages. 

At Saturday’s press conference outside Walter Reed, White House physician Sean Conley told reporters Trump was doing “very well.” 

“At this time the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” Conley said. “Thursday, he had a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.” 

“He’s in exceptionally good spirits,” Dr. Sean Dooley said following Conley, adding that Trump’s heart, kidney and liver seemed normal and that he was not experiencing any trouble breathing or walking around.

Moments after the press conference, however, a source familiar with the president’s health who was not initially on the record said that the president’s vitals over the past day had been “very concerning,” describing the next 48 hours as “critical in terms of his care.” 

“We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery,” the person, now reported as Meadows, said. The chief of staff was caught on camera outside Walter Reed talking to reporters and asking to go off the record to discuss the president’s health. 

These remarks from Meadows contrasted his statements Friday, when he said Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms” but was “very energetic.” 


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Clintons wish Trumps speedy recovery, hopes for safety of White House staff and Secret Service

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonICE launching billboard campaign highlighting ‘at-large immigration violators’ Congress can’t stop QAnon but combatting abuse and trauma can Majority of Americans concerned about potential foreign election interference: poll MORE on Friday night sent wishes of a speedy recovery to her 2016 opponent President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 Trump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection ICE launching billboard campaign highlighting ‘at-large immigration violators’ MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection Kellyanne Conway tests positive for COVID-19 Trump to Woodward in April: I’m ‘just not’ worried about contracting COVID-19 MORE after their coronavirus diagnosis, as well as hopes “for the safety of the White House staff, the Secret Service, and others putting their lives on the line.”

“This pandemic has affected so many. We must continue to protect ourselves, our families, and communities,” wrote the former first lady and her husband, former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonArizona Mirror editor says changing demographics could shift battleground state in Biden’s favor Clinton says debate made her worry ‘what the next month is going to be like’ New poll finds Biden narrowly leading Trump in Georgia MORE.

The Trumps revealed their coronavirus diagnosis early Friday morning, sending a shock through Washington and the rest of the world.

In the afternoon, Trump traveled to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he will remain “for the next few days. White House officials have said that Trump’s symptoms are mild and he remains in good spirits.

The announcement came after news broke that White House adviser and top aide to the president Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump campaign manager tests positive for COVID-19 Trump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection Kellyanne Conway tests positive for COVID-19 MORE tested positive for the disease

Both Hicks and the president had been together on Air Force One in Cleveland for the presidential debate as well as a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayTrump given Remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 infection Kellyanne Conway tests positive for COVID-19 Special counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report MORE, Trump’s former longtime adviser, also tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

Last Saturday, Conway attended a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White

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